Canadian-based start-up Icarus Aerospace is championing an effort to bring about a new, all-modern Close-Air Support (CAS) attacker through its proposed "Wasp" Tactical Air Vehicle (TAV) concept. The design is no doubt inspired by such types as the North American Rockwell OV-10 "Bronco" platform of the Vietnam War years and, indeed, relies on a similar twin-engine, twin-boom arrangement joined by a shared elevator plane at the rear. The aircraft is billed with much of the inherent capabilities of more costly multi-role fighter types though with a far-reduced cost commitment. Additionally, the concept is being developed as highly modular and customizable to both customer needs and battlefield requirements for a complete all-in-one solution.
The specialized CAS aircraft is called upon to take up several over-battlefield roles including direct-action against enemy ground elements often times operating within reach of allied ground forces. In this way, the platform is required to be highly stable for the delivery of various ordnance options and munitions and offer exceptional loitering times in the target area all the while showcasing strong survivability against ground-based threats - namely gun / cannon fire - as well as excellent Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) qualities and low-cost maintenance / quick mission turn-around times. Generally the concept is fulfilled by a twin-engine, fixed-wing monoplane seating a crew of two in tandem. Examples include the aforementioned prop-driven OV-10 "Bronco" and the single-seat, jet-powered Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog). The Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-25 "Grach" also falls into this category of capable attackers as do lighter options like the Brazilian Embraer EMB-314 "Super Tucano".
The Canadian approach to the concept relies on twin turboprop engines housed in streamlined nacelles at each wing mainplane member. The engines (currently rated at 1,700 horsepower apiece) drive five-bladed propeller units in tractor (puller) fashion, providing the needed performance and survivability for "low-and-slow" flying. The mainplanes are straight-edged and clipped at the tips, again, aiding in low-altitude handling. The all-glass/digital cockpit, avionics set, and other pertinent operating components are all housed in the streamlined centralized nacelle that sports a slight "chine" (a quality often seen in 5th Generation Fighters like the F-22/F-35). The crew of two (pilot and weapons officer) are seated in tandem under large, unobstructed clear-view canopies behind a short nosecone assembly (ejection seats are assumed for each crewman). For ground-running, there is a conventional (wheeled and retractable) tricycle undercarriage.
The strength of a CAS design lies in its ordnance-carrying capability and the Wasp proposal does not disappoint: up to eleven hardpoints are featured including three under each wing outboard of the engine nacelles and there are several fuselage hardpoints as well - all made to support a variety of air-launched/air-dropped weapons including missiles, rockets, precision-guided/dumb bombs. An internal cannon in a fixed, forward-firing mounting is also planned with an optional ventral gun pod also being made available. Beyond this will be an external fuel-carrying capability for increased operating ranges.
Current specifications include an overall length of 52 feet with a wingspan measuring 51 feet. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) up to 21,000lb. Mission endurance will be up to 6.5 hours on internal fuel and enhanced to 9 hours with the support of external fuel stores.
Planned onboard systems include Active, Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar in the nose assembly with up to two FLIR (Foward-Looking InfraRed) turrets in retractable housings. Operations will cover both day and night/low-light-level attack sorties (against both land- and sea-based targets) as well as reconnaissance, armed scouting, Forward Air Control (FAC), SPECial OPerations (SPECOPS) support, Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), and COunter-INsurgency (COIN) initiatives. An inherent rough-field capability will also make up part of the Wasp's design as will in-flight refueling (with both manned-input and automatic).
One of the more intriguing qualities being offered by the design is an unmanned option (either remote-piloted or full autonomous), reducing the risk of manned crews over contested areas and enhancing agility and the operating service ceiling. The aircraft will target aging fixed-wing, helicopter, and drone products currently in service and used in the CAS role.
As it stands, the Wasp concept is sure to turn some heads in the early going and its success will ultimately depend on global demand for such a niche product. For Canada, the design's fruition can only benefit a long-struggling aero-industry which saw its pinnacle reached in the early-to-middle Cold War period.
August 2020 - Canada-based Icarus Aerospace is seeking investment on its proposed Wasp attacker concept. Engineering is to be handled completely digitally to expedite testing and its entry into service.
Production 0 Units
Icarus Aerospace - Canada
- Ground Attack
- Close-Air Support (CAS)
- Electronic Warfare (EW)
- Navy / Maritime
- Search and Rescue (SAR)
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
52.00 ft (15.85 m)
50.85 ft (15.5 m)
2 x Turboprop engines of unknown make and model developing 1,700 horsepower each driving five-bladed propeller units.
224 mph (360 kph; 194 kts)
36,089 feet (11,000 m; 6.84 miles)
1,498 miles (2,410 km; 1,301 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Icarus Aerospace Wasp production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
1 x 20mm/30mm automatic cannon in fixed, forward-firing mounting.
Up to 8,000lb of externally-held, air-dropped/air-launched ordnance and munitions including conventional drop bombs, precision-guided bombs, air-to-surface missiles, air-to-air missiles, gun pods, cannon pods, and rockets/rocket pods.
Optional powered, traversing automatic cannon turret in ventral pod (up to 30mm caliber).
Also support for jettisonable external fuel tanks increasing operational ranges out to 2,000 nautical miles.
Up to eleven underwing/fuselage hardpoints.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Icarus Aerospace Wasp production model)
Wasp - Base Series Name.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
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